These past few weeks were a force to reckon with…let me just begin with this…Have you ever agreed to do a show without any sort of written agreement? DON’T. Do not ever think you don’t need one.
Yes, I’ll admit, most gigs go by without a hiccup. You agree to terms, you show up, and you get a check handed to you right away. Everyone is happy. However, what if you finish your job and have a great, exciting performance, realize when you get home miles away, after the fact, that you were never handed your check?
Believe it, it happens to some of the top musicians in the industry. I’ve seen it. I’m still seeing it, and particularly this month I experienced a horrifying situation.
A performance was agreed upon in good faith with a long time colleague of my client. They had done programs like this together before and worked together for years so there was much trust built. All positive. My client wrote an email with all the terms to substitute for a full-on agreement, as no one felt it wasn’t necessary (It might be relevant for me to tell you now that no payment terms were given in this email.)
The concert came, went absolutely wonderful. They sold many tickets and my client had a great visit. His colleague helped every step of the way to make it a great performance.
After the event, my client didn’t receive the check. Why? OH, the venue has to process the payment first and then he can get paid, said my client’s friend.
After a month, payment wasn’t still received.
Another week went by, and that’s when I was asked to step in and ask my client’s colleague about why payment taking so long. He responded to me, explaining that unfortunately, he wouldn’t be able to pay for another 2 months, that it was just a crazy time, that it was the soonest he could, that he still had to process the payment from the venue….get a sense of what’s happening here?
It made me and my client clinch, but we now had it in writing when payment would be made. Also, again considering the relationship, a little shaken but still strong, my client agreed to waiting.
Then, the new deadline was approaching, and there was no word, nothing, nada. After me having to reaching out again, he says as if there is no issue at all, “Of course, I will send the check! Right away! Yes!”
I was optimistic – finally, a sign that he will send the payment! My job was done, I thought. If only I had remembered who we were dealing with….Another 2 weeks went by, and no payment was seen.
After harassing him on the phone, email, AND Facebook, demanding him to overnight the payment right away, he finally responded, and said the best he could do was send HALF of the payment. I requested that he document the receipts so I knew I could trust that he sent it. I felt silly doing it, but it was the only way I could ensure that he would actually send it. I’m going to have to do it again when he is able to pay the second half next week.
As my client and I are discussing our frustrations, it’s clear that we are both thinking that we wish that even the simplest of terms, especially including when payment was due, were agreed to in writing. Even the most seemingly trusting people out there can easily screw you over! And the worst part about it is that it’s completely preventable.
Sometimes the biggest mistakes and negative situations can be a great blessing in disguise. Let this story be a lesson for any performance, big or small, have a written agreement on file. It protects everyone and avoids confusion and frustration. Most importantly, it avoids valuable time wasted on chasing payments and the energy spent doing so.
So, with your next concert or gig, draft up an agreement with all the terms laid out, including when and how you’ll get paid for your services, and ask the presenter to sign it. If an agreement feels too formal, put it in an email and ask them to say they received and agree. Simple as that, and you can go to bed that night knowing you are protecting yourself a little better. A small, forward step to improving your business. Trust me, you’ll be saving hours and hours of energy and follow up afterwards when things don’t go smoothly.
As always, have a wonderful rest of your weekend and see you next time.